23rd January 2022 – (Hong Kong) The fifth wave of the epidemic in Hong Kong continues to worsen. Chief Executive Carrie Lam expressly said yesterday that existing social distancing measures are unlikely to be relaxed after 4th February.
Simon Wong Ka-wo, chairman of Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants & Related Trades said that due to the government’s tightening of social distancing measures and ban of evening dine-in services, many bookings for Lunar New Year were cancelled. It is estimated that the industry has lost a total of HK$8 billion revenue in January and February.
Wong said that the Lunar New Year in February is a critical period for the catering industry, and March and April are traditional off-seasons. It is expected that there will be some restaurants which will close down in March and he estimated the number to exceed 500.
He called on the government to allow evening dine-in services till 8pm from 4th February. He pointed out that even if some restaurants are doing well during the day, the revenue only accounts for 30% of the overall business volume, and they cannot rely on takeaway business alone to support their operations.
Meanwhile, the government has also provided subsidies under the anti-epidemic fund and restaurants overseas during lockdown period do not receive any subsidies similar to Hong Kong. During a critical period like this, businesses should not prioritise their profits and losses over the epidemic situation. Instead, they should work together with the government to fight against the virus.